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My relationship with the Star Wars expanded universe hasn’t been a close one.  I’ve often wondered why the two of us don’t get on as well as we should.  I’ve pondered the reason why we are like passing ships in the night.  There should be no reason why we don’t have a more stable and close relationship.  But there it is.  Each of us only occasionally open the door to one another’s universe.

One theory I have for this glancing relationship takes me back to the first time I was introduced to Star Wars all those decades ago in 1977.  For years after my first viewing at the cinema, my only aim in regards of my Star Wars fix was increasing my Kenner Star Wars figure collection and completing my Topps trading card set.  Even by the time Return of the Jedi came around in ‘83 I was still collecting Kenner/Palitoy products and getting frustrated in not completing my Panini sticker album.

Now you may be asking why has this stopped me from exploring the expanded universe of Star Wars?  Well my expanded universe as a kid was my figure collection.  I would spend hours making up my own stories using my figures, Millennium Falcon and Mini-rigs.  Any figures I didn’t own usually were substituted with another figure from another franchise (The Black Hole’s Maximilian usually got used as the Empires latest baddie.)  If no substitute was available then that character was usually “written out” of my story.  Lando was kidnapped and nowhere to be seen and The Emperor was in hiding.  My play time with these figures produced what I considered to be complex stories for the time and I even ended my playtime on a climatic event, a cliffhanger that would be picked up on the next play time.

So the early years of my Star Wars fascination was occupied with this routine.  I may have read the odd Star Wars comic or read the Marks & Spencer’s movie adaptation annual but m69FV-Eywyk3wlalENpROwAmy heart was with these toys.

Later on in my Star Wars life I realised there was a huge collection of original novels out there but at no time was I drawn to them.  The Star Wars books were not a big part of my life unless it was books on the making of the movies.  I loved to read as I was growing up but I was more drawn to original novels, behind the scenes books and biographies.  Actually the only time I have looked to an expanded universe for answers was actually Star Trek (Sorry!)  After seven years of watching Voyager I was so displeased with the ending I needed to know more, so when I heard there was going to be two novels that continued the story straight after the ending of the show I had to get them.  This was and still is the only time I’ve actively seeked out an expanded universe story.

I am a huge videogame enthusiast and I realise that technically the Star Wars games are classed as being part of the expanded universe, and this I would consider my closest involvement with the EU.  It may contribute in a strange way with my continued lack of closeness to the EU in later years.  I’ve played every Star Wars game on the PC and Xbox and loved them all.  Okay maybe not the Kinect one.  Getting my Star Wars fix away from the movies and The Clone Wars has often been achieved by video games.  My virtual Kenner toys so to speak.

So here I am now in current time and I have more involvement with Star Wars than ever before and yet my relationship with the expanded universe still feels a bit forced (no pun intended.)  I love reading graphic novels on my kindle and phone.  I continue to read novels but Star Wars is often overlooked, instead choosing the likes of Gaiman or Pratchett.  I recently read the Thrawn trilogy and although I enjoyed it, it didn’t blow me away.  Same with the recent Darth Maul graphic novel.  I listen to a number of Star Wars podcasts, (Coffee With Kenobi being my first choice) and often see the subject of the week being discussed is the latest novel or graphic novel.  They sound good but I’m looking for that same fix I had all those years ago as a kid.  I am looking for my modern day Kenner playtime.  So am I missing out on some classic Star Wars or is it okay to leave the EU alone?  Can I be regarded as a true Star Wars fan if I don’t have a permanent residence in the EU universe?  What do you recommend?

Rob Wainfur

@thebeardedtrio

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9 Comments

  1. Mark Marble
    April 9, 2014 at 13:50 Reply

    I think the Thrawn trilogy is very overrated. I think people have a fondness for it more because it was the first new material we’d seen since ROTJ than because it was truly a great read. I would recommend reading the Darth Bane trilogy if you haven’t. I think that was far superior to Zahn’s.

  2. danz2013
    April 9, 2014 at 15:02 Reply

    You are clearly a huge fan who wants the authenticity that the films and your days of playing with the figures brought you. I completely understand that. Personally, I am more drawn to the Prequel E.U., as it isn’t as sacred to me. I think Darth Plagueis is excellent, and will leave you feeling captivated and introspective, as to the nature of the Force. Great Blog, and thanks for the props!

  3. Lisa
    April 10, 2014 at 21:49 Reply

    One of the truly great things about Star Wars is there are so many outlets for fans. I love the EU, but I’m not a gamer. Some of us collect toys and such, while others don’t even have a single action figure. I’d say we’re all fans on equal footing, though. It’s our love for the Saga that binds us. All the extras are frosting.

    That said, since so much of the EU is made up of series, I’d recommend finding stand-alone novels and take it from there. Darth Plagueis, Kenobi, The Courtship of Princess Leia, Shadows of the Empire, Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, Shatterpoint, I, Jedi – just to name a few.

    Other things I’d recommend (if you’ve not read them before) are some stories that were EU before there was officially an ‘EU.’ ‘The Exploits of Han Solo’ by Brian Daley is something I read waaaay back in the day – 1980. The ‘Exploits’ are three books – Han Solo at Star’s End, Han Solo’s Revenge, and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy.

    I could probably go on, but you get the idea. 😉

  4. jaymo2yp
    April 11, 2014 at 12:04 Reply

    It’s always interesting to me to hear different fan perspectives on the EU. I, myself LOVE it, but my bestie, also a huge fan, hasn’t really gotten into it much.

    To me, it’s exactly that – expanded. I crave anything and everything that can give me insight, backstory, richer interpretations and interwoven storylines. I think a lot of that goes back to my other fndom – Marvel (and DC, but I still like the Marvel Universe better). The comics’ stories and chracters have always fascinated me with the way they were/are intertwined. There seems to be a new and different revelation to every thread. Now that the Marvel movies are taking hold of the cinematic arena, I’m loving every second of the richness to every layer…to me, it ups the anty with each new revelation.

    That’s why I personally love the EU – for these same reasons. Many of my favorite Star Wars characters are EU – Thairi Velia, Thrawn, the Solo and Skywalker legacies, etc…

    I think it’s personal preference as to wether or not you choose the EU. I don’t think it makes you a “better fan” to go one way or another!

  5. Becca Benjamin
    April 11, 2014 at 19:28 Reply

    This is a great blog! Interesting conflict you have here. The EU is an enormous galaxy of it’s on entity and rightfully so.

    Like you, I too have not dabbled that deep into that spectrum of our beloved GFFA. Although, what I have read (mainly PT EU) has been fantastic! My “Faves” are: Darth Bane, Plagueis, Labyrinth of Evil, Clones Wars Gambit Siege, The Hive, Dark Lord, all three of the PT movies ;), and a few EU after the PT: Kenobi and Tatooine Ghost (which I highly recommend). Of course, these are just naming a few that I thoroughly enjoyed 🙂

  6. Jeff M
    April 13, 2014 at 12:47 Reply

    the concept of a “true fan” is silly to me. As others have said, the Star Wars universe is so vast there are corners for everyone, and I don’t know many who embrace every single area. I enjoy the occasional EU novel, I enjoy some of the comics, but I’m not extremely well-versed in the Expanded Universe, but I’m still the biggest Star Wars fan I know, and nobody can tell me any different 🙂

    Great blog, and I agree with everyone’s sentiments above, the Han Solo novels by Brian Daley are fun, although the last one is pretty weak, but they’re quick and fun and very “Star Wars-y”

    Ultimately, watch what you like, read what you like, collect what you like. If you don’t get the rest, then it’s just not for you.

    Can’t wait for next month!

  7. Melinda
    April 17, 2014 at 10:28 Reply

    All I can do is echo everyone else’s sentiments. There is nothing that makes one a true “Star Wars Fan”. What a silly notion! 😉 Like many of our brethren here, I enjoy the EU. I have read every novel aimed at adults, and quite a few of those that are geared toward younger readers. I will say they all are not on equal footing. My favorite – the X-wing series, which leads into the Wraith Squadron series. I also relished the Clones series by K. Traviss (I think there are 2 esses in her last name. I’m just being lazy this morning, and don’t feel like looking it up. Besides, it’s just as frustrating typing with only one hand due to this blasted broken arm today as it was 4 weeks ago when I fell off the ladder! 😉 I hope this will be over soon!). You might like these series. 🙂
    There is so much depth to Star Wars … something for everyone. I’m not a particular fan of the graphic novels – although I definitely appreciate the artistry that goes into creating the lovely works. I just prefer the imagery that good prose conjures up. 🙂 Does this keep me from being a “true fan” of our beloved saga? I know I’m answering my own question here, but I will go on the record, and declare, “No!”
    I will say this – I think it’s grand that you would take your action figures, and place your characters in scenarios of your own making. 🙂 Afterall, isn’t that what Star Wars is all about? Letting our imaginations take flight … to a galaxy far, far away? Who knows where you might wind up?
    Great blog! Thanks for sharing, and MTFBWY. 🙂

  8. welshslider
    April 22, 2014 at 01:29 Reply

    Thanks for all the tips. I think based on the comments here I may check out the X-Wing series but I found an old copy of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye in my collection the other day so will read that first.

  9. Joe2
    May 8, 2014 at 09:07 Reply

    I’m a little late to the party, but I have to agree with what everyone else has said previously. Star Wars is so vast, that there are aspects that everyone can enjoy. You don’t have to be into the EU to be a “true” fan, which is a completely stupid notion.

    Personally, I enjoy the EU. I collect all the books and I’ve read most of the older books. I only have the paperback editions, so I’m usually a year behind, but that doesn’t lessen my enjoyment. I don’t really have a favorite, although the X-wing series is good, and the Darth Bane series was good, since it introduced a concept that we heard about in the PT.

    Great read, and welcome to the CWK family. Looking forward to reading your next post!

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